Going to university was one of the best things I ever did.
It hasn't got me a better job, nor a myriad of other things that I hear people go to university for -it set my mind free. Or better still I got to see by reading papers on studies what a load of nonsense we're fed every day. And I only studied within a few areas.
My main subject became sociolinguistics, which is the study of the reasons why people use language - the sociological reasons behind linguistic choices. And it may not sound sexy, but it's an amazing subject area.
One very commonly held belief is that good grammar is good for the brain.
That somehow good grammar demonstrates that you are more intelligent than someone with less knowledge of the 'correct' use of language.
What if I told you that idea was a great big pile of doo-doo?
There's a wonderful study by a British man (Bernstein came from East London actually, if that interests you - I didn't know that and have been pronouncing his name the American way for years and that's going to revert to the European way now I know that.) in New York. Reading this paper had a big impact on me.
Bernstein formulated one of the best studies I ever read.
I mean, it was a brilliant construction and that makes all th difference to what sort of results a study is going to get. ( A lot of papers -the majority - I read were set up to come out with an outcome in mind, it was clear to me. )
He interviewed children in the least privileged area in New York, New York and another groups/s where education was more highly prized.
In this very well-known study, Bernstein asked the children some really interesting questions. When he asked them on the subject of philosophy - about the concept of God - it was very clear - so startlingly obvious what a hindrance good language is. In the study, those with good language struggled to get across one or two points within a sentence. But the children who were using language more creatively could get across ten ideas for those one or two. Not being limited by good language was demonstrably better for one's intelligence.
So, while I love language - and I do! All of it - I know its limitations and I do not consider myself brighter because I have good language skills. I do, however, know that good language gives me status. And that is a distinct advantage. But let's not pretend good language makes us more intelligent or makes us look more intelligent because that is very much not the case. And I have interesting points of view about people who do think they're more intelligent, because they speak better English.
It's all about what you say.
How you say it is a choice.
And we often choose a language style that denotes the group of people we'd like to be identified with.
So when we teach our children good language, we are giving them an advantage in society - we may be more respected with good language and we may be rejected by others because of the same language choices, which can be a distinct disadvantage. But it has nothing at all to do with intelligence.
Not one single sausage to do with intelligence. That is innate. The question is do we choose to educate our children into the societal norms or keep them free to express all their ideas and awareness?
So, I wonder, what ideas and awarenesses have we had but not recognised, simply because our language had impeded our natural flow?
What would it be like, if we allowed all of them to flow to us and through us, so we could embrace more of who we really are and what we really know?
And what do we know that is way beyond the reach of language that we haven't yet acknowledged?
And what would life be like if we had command over much, much more of ourselves?
And what magic would that create in the world?